Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: My son and I host trivia games at a pub, and for a new contest we need a list of songs where the artists include their own names.

So far the songs we've found are mostly from the 1980s or later, but we still need examples from the 1950s, '60s and '70s.

Can you help us?
—Tammy Mitzel, Wrightsville, Pa.

DEAR TAMMY: I believe so, but in order for the information to be useful to readers in general, I'll document qualifying tunes without regard to level of difficulty in a trivia challenge. That should give you plenty of name-dropper songs, from the obvious to the obscure. Then you can pick and choose.

My search will focus on pre-1980s charted artists who are unmistakably referring to themselves, whether by full or partial name, stage name or nickname.

With groups, they may use their band name or that of either their lead singer, or all of their members (not just one or two).

Artists are listed alphabetically, followed by one example of their eponymic lyrics, the song title and year:

Bad Company: "I can hear 'em say, Bad Company" ("Bad Company") 1974

Archie Bell and the Drells: "Hi everybody, I'm Archie Bell and the Drells from Houston, Texas" ("Tighten Up") 1968

Big Bopper: "This is the Big Bopper speaking" ("Chantilly Lace") 1958

Ray Charles: "You know my name is Ray" ("I Believe to My Soul") 1961

David Allen Coe: "The only time I know I'll hear David Allen Coe" ("You Never Even Call Me By My Name") 1975

Cowboy Copas "Cowboy Copas? Oh well, that's when I woke up" ("I Dreamed of a Hill-Billy Heaven") 1962
Ironically, about three months after his recording came out, Cowboy Copas was killed in the same plane crash that claimed Patsy Cline and Hawkshaw Hawkins (March 5, 1963).

Eddie Dean with the Frontiersmen: "Eddie Dean? Well that's when I woke up" ("I Dreamed of a Hill-Billy Heaven") 1955

Jimmy Dean: "Yours truly, Jimmy Dean, USA" ("Dear Ivan") 1962

Bo Diddley: "Bo Diddley buy baby a diamond ring" ("Bo Diddley") 1955

Disco Tex & the Sex-O-Lettes: "Here come dee jay Disco Tex truckin' with his Sex-O-Lettes" ("Get Dancin'") 1974

Bob Dylan: "You may call me Bobby, you may call me Zimmy" ("Gotta Serve Somebody") 1979

Floaters: "Aquarius, and my name is Ralph [Mitchell]"; "Libra and my name is Charles [Clarke]"; "Leo and my name is Paul [Mitchell]"; "Cancer and my name is Larry [Cunningham]" ("Float On") 1977

Jimi Hendrix: "Move over Rover and let Jimi take over" ("Fire") 1967

Joe Hinton: "You never can tell when Joe Hinton will come back in town" ("Funny") 1964

Waylon Jennings & Willie Nelson: "Let's go to Luckenbach, Texas, Waylon and Willie and the boys" ("Luckenbach, Texas [Back to the Basics of Love]") 1977

Billy Joel: "John at the bar is a friend of mine … he says Bill, I believe this is killing me" ("Piano Man") 1974

Janis Joplin (Big Brother & the Holding Company): "I'm gonna take good care of Janis … ain't no one gonna dog me down" ("Turtle Blues") 1968

Jerry Lee Lewis: "My name is Jerry Lee Lewis from Louisiana" ("Lewis Boogie") 1958
Following this audio introduction, Jerry Lee's music frequently mentioned variations of his name and his nickname, "The Killer."

Matt Lucas: "One of these days and it won't be long, you're gonna look for Matt Lucas … Matt Lucas be gone" ("I'm Movin' On") 1963

Mamas and the Papas "John [Phillips] and Michy [Michelle Phillips] were getting' kinda itchy just to leave the folk music behind … when Denny [Doherty] met Cass [Elliot] he gave her love bumps" ("Creeque Alley") 1967

Joni Mitchell: "Tell those [other] girls that you've got Joni" ("Blue Motel Room") 1976

Monkees "Hey hey, we're the Monkees" ("[Theme From] The Monkees") 1966

Ricky Nelson: "You're gonna see ol' Colorado headin' for the door, you better believe I'm gonna leave, like the 9:04 train" ("Restless Kid") 1959
"Colorado" was Rick's character in "Rio Bravo." "Restless Kid" was not heard in the film though it was released on records.

Tex Ritter: "Tex Ritter? That's when I woke up" ("I Dreamed of a Hill-Billy Heaven") 1961

Paul Revere and the Raiders: "Paul Revere decided that they had such new found fame, they needed a fancy title and the Raiders they became" ("The Legend of Paul Revere") 1967

Ringo Starr (Beatles): "Rock on George [Harrison], for Ringo one time" ("Honey Don't") 1964

Statler Brothers: "Come back stage and ask for Harold [Reid], Phil [Balsley], Don [Reid] or Lou [DeWitt], and we'll see you get an audition for the Statler Brothers Review" ("How to Be a Country Star") 1979

Steely Dan: "They got the Steely Dan t-shirt" ("Show Biz Kids") 1973

Sugarhill Gang (Mike-Guy-Hank): "I am Wonder Mike" [Michael Wright] - "The one they call Master Gee" [Guy O'Brien] - "I'm Big Bang Hank" [Hank Jackson] ("Rapper's Delight") 1979

Johnny "Guitar" Watson: "The Sheriff say is your name Johnny Guitar Watson? I say yes sir brother Sheriff, and that's your wife on the back of my horse" ("Gangster of Love") 1957

IZ ZAT SO? We reference only three versions of "I Dreamed of a Hill-Billy Heaven," but several other singers recorded it since 1955, including Anita Carter (1955); Dick Curless (1960); Arlie Duff (1955); Bill Lowrey (1955); and Hal Southern (1957). This country classic was co-written by Eddie Dean and Hal Southern, and each man recorded it separately.

The gimmick is for the singer to insert their own name to the list of future Hill Billy Heaven residents. Then, when he or she hears their name, they are startled and quickly awaken from the dream.

Though recorded later than the time frame requested, mention of a 1993 version by Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn, and Tammy Wynette is essential.

From their album, "Honky Tonk Angels" (Columbia CK 53414), "I Dreamed of a Hillbilly Heaven" (note slightly different title) is updated to include some stars who died between 1961 (Tex Ritter's hit) and 1993.

In the order revealed by Dolly Parton, these are Hillbilly Heaven's latest arrivals, and the year of their passing:

Roy Acuff (1992)
Tex Ritter (1974)
Conway Twitty (1993)
Jim Reeves (1964)
Roger Miller (1992)
Roy Orbison (1986)
Ernest Tubb (1984)
Patsy Cline (1963)
Dottie West (1991)
Tennessee Ernie Ford (1991)
George Morgan (1975)
Webb Pierce (1991)
Lefty Frizzell (1975)
Mother Maybelle Carter (1978)
Marty Robbins (1982)
Elvis Presley (1977)

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